6 March 2023

Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan Grow Harsher

Mohshin Habib

Between 1987 and 2017, blasphemy charges were brought against 1,549 people. Among these, 829 people were non-Muslims. Since 1990, more than 70 people have been brutally murdered by mobs over allegations of insulting Islam. Critics say the fact that minorities figure so prominently in these cases shows how the laws are unfairly applied.

Until 1947, the time of Indian liberation and separation, there had been only seven blasphemy cases. Between 1927 and 1985 (58 years) only ten cases were heard in Pakistan's courts. Since then, however, there have been more than 4,000 cases.

The International Journal of Science and Research stated in 2019: "In Pakistan, many people are on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy in Pakistan then in any other country in the world."

These laws urgently need to be repealed.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have once again been made even more stringent by the country's lawmakers. Amid a long-running international outcry against the notorious blasphemy laws, the National Assembly of Pakistan on January 17 unanimously passed "The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act 2023," which increased the minimum punishment for those found guilty of insulting the Islamic Prophet Mohammad's companions, wives and family members from three years to 10 years' imprisonment, along with a fine of 1 million Pakistani rupees ($4,122).

How Did China's Air Force "Explode" Into the Threat it is Today?


Decades ago, many observers, analysts and Pentagon threat assessment experts may not have anticipated that the fledgling Chinese Air Force would be emerging as the threat it is today. Certainly China’s rapid modernization effort and growing global ambitions have been rising in an explosive way, compelling the US to strengthen and accelerate its modernization and science and technology efforts. Sure enough, today the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, PLAAF, operates an impactful number of 5th-generation equivalents such as its J-20, which may or may not be little more than an F-35-F-22 copycat.

Nonetheless, the full extent of the threat posed by the J-20 may not yet be known, and of course China is amid early stages of developing its carrier-launched 5th-gen equivalent in its J-31. Even if the PLAAF does not now rival the ability, size and scope of the US Air Force, its explosive progress cannot be ignored, a trend cataloged in great detail by an interesting 2019 text called “Chinese Air Power in the 20th-Century. The Rise of the Red Dragon.”

Why China Is Not a Superpower

Jo Inge Bekkevold

China’s growing power is the single most influential driver of geopolitical change today. Notwithstanding Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the United States has clearly identified China as its number one challenge. In June 2022, for the first time ever, NATO included China in its Strategic Concept, signaling a radical shift in the bloc’s security outlook.

But how mighty is China really? Measuring and comparing power between nations and across time is an imprecise exercise at best. Nonetheless, we can gain valuable information about China’s current power position if we compare it to the contemporary United States and Cold War-era Soviet Union—and consider three important concepts: polarity, hegemony, and the original definition of a superpower.

Such a comparison reveals that the United States is a pole, regional hegemon, and superpower. The Soviet Union was a pole and a superpower—but did not have regional hegemony. And although China is a pole in what is now a bipolar U.S.-China system, it is neither a regional hegemon nor a superpower. While these categorizations might read like abstract nuances in a scholarly debate, they actually have major, concrete implications for strategy and policy in the 21st century.

Polarity is simply the number of great powers in the international system. The most common method to determine which powers count as great is to look at key indicators: population, territorial size, resource endowment, economic capability, military strength, political stability, and policy competence. Using these seven indicators, we can see the international system now has a distinct bipolar power structure, with China and the United States as the two poles—similar to the U.S.-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War.

Inside China’s Peace Plan for Ukraine

Alexander Gabuev

A year into the war in Ukraine, China has finally elaborated its stance on the conflict, releasing a twelve-point document proposing a framework for a political settlement. The document is a laundry list of familiar Chinese talking points about the war. It repeats Beijing’s support for the UN Charter and the territorial integrity of states, but at the same time condemns unilateral sanctions, and criticizes the expansion of U.S.-led military alliances.

Those who expected a roadmap to peace in Ukraine will surely be disappointed. Yet the authors of the Chinese position paper have no such ambition, and certainly do not intend for Beijing to become deeply embroiled in the conflict. The document is sooner a rebuttal to Western allegations that China has been a silent accomplice to Russia, and an attempt to bolster its image as a responsible world power in the eyes of developing countries.

Expectations around the paper were raised by Wang Yi, until recently China’s foreign minister and now the Politburo’s point man on foreign policy, who had announced the proposal at the Munich Security Conference. But the released document predictably lacked specifics about burning issues such as resolving the territorial dispute between Kyiv and Moscow or security guarantees for Ukraine. Moreover, the language of the document does not bind anyone to anything, Beijing included. This is a feature, not a bug, of the Chinese position on the war in Ukraine.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine took China by surprise. As in 2014, when the conflict in Ukraine began (and in 2008 during Russia’s war against Georgia), China staked out a position so careful as to be ambiguous. On the one hand, Beijing immediately came out in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the war’s swift resolution. On the other, Chinese diplomats echoed the joint declaration signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on February 4, 2022, in which the Ukraine crisis was blamed on NATO expansion and the West’s disregard for Russia’s demands on European security. At the same time, as before, China condemned Western sanctions against Russia while strictly observing them.

Analysis: Xi wants China's security apparatus under his direct grip


Katsuji Nakazawa is a Tokyo-based senior staff and editorial writer at Nikkei. He spent seven years in China as a correspondent and later as China bureau chief. He was the 2014 recipient of the Vaughn-Ueda International Journalist prize.

It has been 10 years since Zhou Yongkang, the former Politburo Standing Committee member and boss of China's internal security apparatus, was purged.

So enormous was his influence at one point that even the country's top leader, then-President Hu Jintao, was unable to directly intervene in public security and police matters.

Now there are signs that the domestic security domain will be strengthened in a significant way, under Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.

Clues were laid in a communique issued Tuesday after a three-day session of the party's leadership -- known as the second plenary session of the party's 20th Central Committee.

Xi’s Communist Party wants even more centralized control


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has proposed to restructure the government’s organization. The 20th Chinese Communist Party Central Committee closed its three-day second plenary session on Tuesday with big plans to change the government’s structure Xinhua reported.

The proposal, known as the Party and State Institutional Reform Plan, nominally aims to boost efficiency to achieve high-quality growth while ensuring social stability and must ultimately be approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC).

But is that all it’s about? A deeper read shows that the plan seeks to establish more state control and centralization, long-favored themes of President Xi Jinping.

When Xi said in his speech at the plenary that the Party must strengthen its leadership in government departments and ensure that they will fully implement its proposed reform, close observers could hark back to an article he published in July 2020 that called for strengthening the party’s establishment.

In that article, he said that the CCP had already set up more than 3,200 party committees, 145,000 working groups and 4.68 million grass-roots party organizations in China.
Controlling the fingers

“No other political party in the world has such an advantage as ours,” Xi wrote then. He wrote that such an advantage can only be fully leveraged if the party has strong executive power and a compact organization, operating the way “a body controls an arm, which controls a finger.”

He said the central government’s orders must not be blocked by frontline officers, or the so-called “last mile.”

In Xi Jinping’s view, things haven’t changed all that much since the Han Dynasty. Image: history.com

The concept of “a body controlling a finger” was raised by Chinese political theorist Jia Yi, who was born in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty. Jia said the central government should centralize the country’s political and economic power and have absolute control over feudal lords.

Xi’s 2020 article written in the Jia tradition was not a one-off. Xuexi Shibao (Study Times), a journal of the Central Party School, published an article in October 2021 praising Jia’s theory.

The NPC’s annual meeting will start on March 5. While the proposal’s details have not been announced, Xinhua said the Party will coordinate and lead all departments in central and local governments to improve their governance and make decisions in a scientific way to solve the problems the country is facing.

“At present, the world’s major changes unseen in a century are accelerating, the world has entered a new period of turmoil and change,” Xi said in his speech during the second plenary session.

“Our country’s development has entered a period in which strategic opportunities, risks and challenges coexist, while uncertainties and unpredictable factors are increasing,” he said.

He said China’s contraction in demand, supply shocks and weakening growth expectations have slowed the country’s economic recovery while the society is facing a lot of deep-seated conflicts. He said that because unexpected events may happen at any time, all party members must stay vigilant and prepare for struggle.

Civilian population control has been a pressing issue for the Party in recent times.

Last November, thousands of angry protesters rallied on streets in different cities across the city, holding white papers and calling for the cancellation of China’s Covid rules.

The protests forced Beijing to loosen its anti-epidemic rules in December, but the sudden change of policy resulted in a sharp increase in Covid deaths.
Chinese demonstrators hold up blank sheets of paper during a protest in Beijing on November 28, 2022. Image: Screengrab / CNN

In 2021 and 2022, homebuyers and suppliers held many rounds of protests in front of the headquarters of Evergrande Group in Shenzhen as they became victims of the heavily-indebted property firm’s financial problems.

The Beijing Youth Daily said in a commentary on February 28 that streamlining the State Council and changing government functions are two main themes of the coming reform, which nominally aims to build a modern socialist country and advance the “great rejuvenation” of the Chinese nation.

It said the Party had reformed its organization five times and the State Council had changed its structure eight times over the past four decades. It noted the State Council had gradually reduced the number of its ministries and departments from about 100 in 1982 to 26 in 2018.

It also said some new bodies, such as the State Administration for Market Regulation, the National Healthcare Security Administration and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, were formed in 2018 to handle the problems unresolved by individual departments.

What US strategy needs now: Muscular containment for the 21st century

Harlan Ullman

In “Russia policy after the war: A new strategy of containment,” my Atlantic Council colleague and good friend Alexander (Sandy) Vershbow provides a primer for any administration. Vershbow’s credentials include having served as head of mission in Moscow and Seoul and as NATO’s deputy secretary general. And his recommendations are on the mark.

I have only one important addition to make to support his case to combine military means with powerful diplomatic, information, and other non-kinetic initiatives to take on Vladimir Putin frontally and force an end to the Ukraine conflict on terms acceptable to Kyiv. It concerns the meaning of containment.

The conventional definition and use of containment understandably refers to George Kennan’s famous 1946 “long telegram,” which was foundational to US and Western national security. But that definition no longer fits the world of 2023, a world that has profoundly changed over the past nearly eight decades. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and a more assertive China make that crystal clear.

In this world, to be effective, containment must be more muscular. That means shifting from largely defensive and reactive policies to more proactive and dynamic ones to deal with newer and emerging challenges, threats, and opportunities regarding Russia and China. How then can “muscularization” be accomplished? It starts with understanding that the original basis of containment was defensive and reactive.

Five key takeaways from US House hearing on China


In a rare show of bipartisanship, Republican and Democratic House members put on a united front as they probed how to respond to the perceived growing threat of China.

Michael Beckley, an expert on US-China relations at Tufts University, was among those watching on as witnesses gave evidence during the committee’s prime-time session. Here are his takeaways from what was discussed.

1. The days of engagement are over

What was abundantly clear from the lawmakers was the message that the era of engagement with China is long past its sell-by date.

Engagement had been the policy of successive governments from Nixon’s landmark visit to China in 1972 onward. But there was a general acceptance among committee members that the policy is outdated and that it is time to adopt if not outright containment then certainly a more competitive policy.

How the U.S. National Cyber Strategy Reaches Beyond Government Agencies

James Rundle

The Biden administration released its long-awaited national cybersecurity strategy Thursday, setting out in broad terms how the U.S. government should approach cybercrime, its own defenses, and the private sector’s responsibility for security over the next several years.

The White House says an updated strategy, cohesive across federal agencies, is necessary due to the growing importance of digital services, spurred in part by stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the White House says, malicious cyber activity has evolved from a criminal nuisance to a threat to national security, conducted by criminal gangs and nation-states.

“I think it’s an impressive piece of work that says some things that have needed to be said for quite a while about critical infrastructure and software security,” said Jeff Greene, the senior director for cybersecurity programs at The Aspen Group, a nonprofit policy and research organization. Until July, Mr. Greene was the chief for cyber response and policy at the National Security Council.

What is the National Cybersecurity Strategy?

Overseen in part by former National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, who retired in February, the 35-page document contains recommendations on a broad swath of cyber policy, from international collaboration on tackling cybercrime to securing internet-connected devices.

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces National Cybersecurity Strategy

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration released the National Cybersecurity Strategy to secure the full benefits of a safe and secure digital ecosystem for all Americans. In this decisive decade, the United States will reimagine cyberspace as a tool to achieve our goals in a way that reflects our values: economic security and prosperity; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; trust in our democracy and democratic institutions; and an equitable and diverse society. To realize this vision, we must make fundamental shifts in how the United States allocates roles, responsibilities, and resources in cyberspace.We must rebalance the responsibility to defend cyberspace by shifting the burden for cybersecurity away from individuals, small businesses, and local governments, and onto the organizations that are most capable and best-positioned to reduce risks for all of us.

We must realign incentives to favor long-term investments by striking a careful balance between defending ourselves against urgent threats today and simultaneously strategically planning for and investing in a resilient future.

The Strategy recognizes that government must use all tools of national power in a coordinated manner to protect our national security, public safety, and economic prosperity.


Our rapidly evolving world demands a more intentional, more coordinated, and more well-resourced approach to cyber defense. We face a complex threat environment, with state and non-state actors developing and executing novel campaigns to threaten our interests. At the same time, next-generation technologies are reaching maturity at an accelerating pace, creating new pathways for innovation while increasing digital interdependencies.

Biden National Cyber Strategy Seeks to Hold Software Firms Liable for Insecurity

Dustin Volz

WASHINGTON—The Biden administration said it would pursue laws to establish liability for software companies that sell technology that lacks cybersecurity protections, concluding that market forces alone aren’t sufficient to guard consumers and the nation.

Free markets and a reliance on voluntary security frameworks have imposed “inadequate costs” on companies that offer insecure products or services, according to a national cybersecurity strategy released Thursday. It says the administration would work with Congress and the private sector to create liability for software vendors, sketching out in broad terms what such legislation should entail.

“We must begin to shift the liability onto those entities that fail to take reasonable precautions to secure their software while recognizing that even the most advanced software security programs cannot prevent all vulnerabilities,” says the 35-page strategy, an interagency product that was written by the office of the national cyber director, which is part of the executive office of the president. Thursday’s strategy also advocates developing a more expansive framework of cybersecurity regulations to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure—a categorization that includes energy operators, hospitals and banks, among others.

In pictures: the impact of the climate crisis and human activity on our oceans

If ocean warming continues at the current rate, we stand to lose sights like this.

Oceans are on the frontline of the climate crisis due to the central role they play in regulating the Earth’s climate by absorbing excess heat from emissions.
These images from the climate-photography resource Climate Visuals explore how rising temperatures are harming marine life and coastal communities that rely on the oceans.
Such photos serve as a reminder of the need to protect our planet’s greatest carbon sink, or risk losing the range of benefits it provides us with.

What is tech diplomacy and why does it matter?

Sebastian Buckup, Mario Canazza

Technology is an increasingly core dimension of global, economic and industry agendas.

Even before the pandemic caused rates of technology adoption to soar, Accenture’s Chief Technology Officer, Paul Daugherty, declared: “Every company is a technology company – some just don’t recognize it yet.”

We’re now seeing the rise of govtech ecosystems, with tech start-ups and small- to medium-sized enterprises providing products and services to aid the digital transformation of administrations – enabling governments to more efficiently serve the public. Global government IT spend is predicted to exceed $600 billion in 2023.

But with the promise of technology comes new challenges around governance, meaning policy-makers are playing catch-up when it comes to regulating tech. Just look at the proliferation of generative AI – both its potential to transform jobs and certain tasks, as well as the risks it poses from copyright infringement to disinformation.

Countries are increasingly deploying tech diplomats to Silicon Valley to directly interact with the companies at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on issues touching on human rights and national security.

“Before 2017, technology-related foreign policy was dominated by state-centrism, with a focus on national security and economic relations. As tech diplomacy has evolved, the private sector and civil society are now seen as actors in the field,” explains Patricia Gruver-Barr, co-founder of the Tech Diplomacy Network.

In Moldova, Ukraine Buys Time

Antonia Colibasanu

A war of words has troubled Moldova for more than two weeks. It started when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of a Russian coup plot against Moldova on Feb. 10. Two days later, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that Ukraine sent intelligence to her government, according to which the Russians had a plan to destabilize the country by organizing protests and by employing “violent actions.” It would have been the perfect cover for inciting a coup in a country that is prone to violent protest-induced governmental change.

In fact, Moldova had been on high alert even before Zelenskyy’s warnings. Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – in a not-so-veiled threat – accused the West of “having its sights” on Moldova as a country that might “follow Ukraine’s path.” Even before that, Sandu enraged Moscow in January by implying Moldova might consider joining NATO. Two influential Russian lawmakers responded by saying Moldovan membership in NATO could lead to the country’s destruction. Following the threat, Sandu requested that the parliament pass draft legislation to provide the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Information System with tools to combat risks and threats to the country’s security more effectively.

News of the coup added to the already high anxiety in Moldova and triggered a change in government. Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned and was replaced by Sandu’s security adviser and National Security Council secretary – a signal that the government was prepared to operate from a mandate to protect Moldova from Russian threats. This is no small thing for a country usually committed to a policy of neutrality. Sandu and the new prime minister promptly issued statements on the shortcomings of neutrality and a potential constitutional change to join a “larger alliance” – that is, NATO.

A Private Company Is Using Social Media to Track Down Russian Soldiers

Jack Hewson

On Oct. 12, 2022, Russian soldier Aleksey Lebedev logged onto VKontakte, Russia’s most popular social network, and uploaded a photo of himself in military fatigues crouching in a large white tent. He had been smart enough to obscure his face with a balaclava, but unfortunately for Lebedev and his comrades, he did not obscure the exact location from which he had posted: Svobodne village in southern Donetsk.

Lebedev’s post was picked up by a Ukrainian military investigations company called Molfar. This lead was transferred to an analyst in its open-source intelligence (OSINT) branch, and investigators spent the next few hours constructing a target location profile for Lebedev and his military unit. The unit’s location was believed to be a training base for Russian and pro-Russian separatist troops. After discovering two other photos posted from the same location by pro-Russian servicemen—as well as other corroborating evidence, which was shared with Foreign Policy—Molfar passed its findings onto Ukrainian intelligence.

Two days later, according to Molfar, explosions and “fireworks” were observed at the site of Lebedev’s selfie, approximately 40 miles behind Russian lines. On its Telegram channel, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported the attack. It is unknown how many casualties were sustained during the blasts. Lebedev deleted his original photo afterward, indicating he survived the explosions. Molfar said that, based on his VKontakte posts, it appears that Lebedev has continued to fight Ukrainian forces, though he is now wise enough not to include his geolocation data.

The first major Russian digital mishaps in wartime date back to 2014. At that time, the Kremlin was denying the presence of its forces in Crimea, while the same forces were posting geolocated images of themselves on social media, exposing Moscow’s lie. (Because of failures like these, it’s been illegal since 2019 for Russian servicemembers to use smart phones while on duty.)

Russia’s Triangular Trap?


When Benjamin Netanyahu became Israeli prime minister once again at the end of last year, some observers wondered whether Israel would move closer to Russia, despite the Russia-Ukraine conflict, thanks to the longstanding personal relationship between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, this seems unlikely at a time when Moscow and Tehran are strengthening their ties over Ukraine and Iran seems closer than ever to building a nuclear weapon.

Recent reports claimed that international inspectors had found uranium enriched to 84 percent, close to the 90 percent required for a nuclear weapon. Iran denounced these assertions as a “conspiracy,” but they could represent a red flag for Israel. Netanyahu has indicated that his country would respond with “credible military action.” The prime minister held high-level meetings with Israeli military officials on February 22, and two days later, on the one-year anniversary of the start of Ukraine war, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen reaffirmed “Israel’s support [for] the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

On the same day, Israel joined 140 other countries that voted in favor of a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly calling on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Israel is also reportedly considering supplying its David’s Sling air defense system to Ukraine. This is in sharp contrast with its previous position, in which it sought to balance ties with Russia and the United States and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia while providing only humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Innovation Power: Why Technology Will Define the Future of Geopolitics

Eric Schmidt

When Russian forces marched on Kyiv in February 2022, few thought Ukraine could survive. Russia had more than twice as many soldiers as Ukraine. Its military budget was more than ten times as large. The U.S. intelligence community estimated that Kyiv would fall within one to two weeks at most.

Outgunned and outmanned, Ukraine turned to one area in which it held an advantage over the enemy: technology. Shortly after the invasion, the Ukrainian government uploaded all its critical data to the cloud, so that it could safeguard information and keep functioning even if Russian missiles turned its ministerial offices into rubble. The country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had established just two years earlier, repurposed its e-government mobile app, Diia, for open-source intelligence collection, so that citizens could upload photos and videos of enemy military units. With their communications infrastructure in jeopardy, the Ukrainians turned to Starlink satellites and ground stations provided by SpaceX to stay connected. When Russia sent Iranian-made drones across the border, Ukraine acquired its own drones specially designed to intercept their attacks—while its military learned how to use unfamiliar weapons supplied by Western allies. In the cat-and-mouse game of innovation, Ukraine simply proved nimbler. And so what Russia had imagined would be a quick and easy invasion has turned out to be anything but.

Ukraine’s success can be credited in part to the resolve of the Ukrainian people, the weakness of the Russian military, and the strength of Western support. But it also owes to the defining new force of international politics: innovation power. Innovation power is the ability to invent, adopt, and adapt new technologies. It contributes to both hard and soft power. High-tech weapons systems increase military might, new platforms and the standards that govern them provide economic leverage, and cutting-edge research and technologies enhance global appeal. There is a long tradition of states harnessing innovation to project power abroad, but what has changed is the self-perpetuating nature of scientific advances. Developments in artificial intelligence in particular not only unlock new areas of scientific discovery; they also speed up that very process. Artificial intelligence supercharges the ability of scientists and engineers to discover ever more powerful technologies, fostering advances in artificial intelligence itself as well as in other fields—and reshaping the world in the process.

Russia Using Western Satellites to Hone Attacks in Ukraine

Jason Jay Smart

As many as ten companies are suspected of selling satellite images to Russia which are then used to attack critical infrastructure sites in Ukraine, sources with knowledge of the issue confirmed to Kyiv Post.

Such sales would be in violation of current United States and European Union sanctions against Russia.

Included among those suspected of trading with Russia and its proxies are companies from the USA, South Korea, the European Union, Israel and China.

During a recent session of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, Daniel J. Kritenbrink the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, revealed that a Chinese company had sold satellite images to the Wagner Group organization.

One senior Ukrainian official told the Kyiv Post that he had reviewed the intelligence relating to the issue and confirmed that Russia had partnered with foreign companies: "Yes, of course this is happening”. In his view it is because there is little if any oversight of the purchase and sale of satellite imagery for commercial purposes in these countries.

The Rise of Web 3.0: How the next generation of the internet could change everything

Web 3.0: The future of the internet, where security and decentralization take center stage, but will it overtake the current Web 2.0? Experts weigh in on the potential revolution and challenges ahead. Let’s first compare the two other versions of the Web to see how things are about to change again.

Version I

The first web version was called Web 1.0. This was the earliest version of the internet. Web 1.0 offered a potential for digital communication and info-sharing. During the early days, there were only a few consumers of content. Personal web pages were everywhere, commonly static and read-only functions. Mainly run ISP web servers or other alternatives. Slowly over time static Web 1.0 pages were getting boring, only being one-sided.

Don’t Rely On AI Plagiarism Detection Tools, Warns OpenAI CEO Sam Altman


OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently warned schools and policymakers not to rely too heavily on AI-based plagiarism detection tools. In an interview, Altman acknowledged that OpenAI is working to develop ways to detect ChatGPT plagiarism, but cautioned that creating tools that perfectly detect AI plagiarism is fundamentally impossible. This announcement serves as a reminder that relying on technology to detect plagiarism may not be the most reliable approach.

What did Sam Altman say in the interview?

In an interview with StrictlyVC’s Connie Loizos, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, said that the company behind the buzzy AI chatbot ChatGPT will develop ways to help schools discover AI plagiarism.

He warned, however, that it is impossible to create perfect AI plagiarism detection tools.

Altman said that people have always integrated new technologies into their lives, such as calculators in math class, and that AI can generate more positive impact for users down the line. He encouraged schools and national policymakers to adapt to generative AI rather than relying on watermarking technologies and other techniques that attempt to label content generated by ChatGPT.

The Cost Of Ignoring Cyberwar


Nowadays, “cyber” is used mainly as a prefix for other words that converts anything to something to do with the internet, such as cybercrime, cyberbullying, Cyber Monday, and our topic, cyberwar. The etymology of “cyber” derives from a defunct area of research concerned with feedback mechanisms in animals and machines. The field was named “cybernetics,” an early forerunner to artificial intelligence. Cybernetics and the root word “cyber” became associated with robots in the public imagination in the years following its inception. “Cybermen” were a race of humanoid robots appearing in Doctor Who (1966). The “Sirius Cybernetics Corporation” was the primary manufacturer of androids, robots, and autonomic assistants in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978). “Cyberdyne Systems Corporation” created Skynet, the antagonistic artificial intelligence in Terminator (1984).

The neologism, “cyberwar,” wasn’t introduced until 1987 in an article published by OMNI Magazine. The article described future battlefields littered with robot carcasses which leans heavily toward cybernetics. However, at this time, “cyber” and its association with robots had waned as artificial intelligence took prominence in academia and popular culture. A modern conception of “cyber” better aligns with the notion of “cyberspace,” which first appeared in the late 1960s and was popularized in fiction by the novel Neuromancer (1984). Neuromancer described cyberspace as a “consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators.” The description of what would become the internet is not far off the mark, nor does it fail in describing aspects of cyberwar.

CISA Releases Red Team Assessment on Critical Infrastructure



In 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) conducted a red team assessment (RTA) at the request of a large critical infrastructure organization with multiple geographically separated sites. The team gained persistent access to the organization’s network, moved laterally across the organization’s multiple geographically separated sites, and eventually gained access to systems adjacent to the organization’s sensitive business systems (SBSs). Multifactor authentication (MFA) prompts prevented the team from achieving access to one SBS, and the team was unable to complete its viable plan to compromise a second SBSs within the assessment period.

Despite having a mature cyber posture, the organization did not detect the red team’s activity throughout the assessment, including when the team attempted to trigger a security response:

“CISA has authority to, upon request, provide analyses, expertise, and other technical assistance to critical infrastructure owners and operators and provide operational and timely technical assistance to Federal and non-Federal entities with respect to cybersecurity risks. (See generally 6 U.S.C. §§ 652[c][5], 659[c][6].) After receiving a request for a red team assessment (RTA) from an organization and coordinating some high-level details of the engagement with certain personnel at the organization, CISA conducted the RTA over a three-month period in 2022.

During RTAs, a CISA red team emulates cyber threat actors to assess an organization’s cyber detection and response capabilities. During Phase I, the red team attempts to gain and maintain persistent access to an organization’s enterprise network while avoiding detection and evading defenses. During Phase II, the red team attempts to trigger a security response from the organization’s people, processes, or technology.

Aussie Space Command looks to electronic warfare, other tech to deter attacks on satellites


AVALON AIR SHOW — The head of Australia’s Defense Space Command says her country seeks technologies to deter countries that might try to laze, jam, bump or move Aussie satellites.

“We are working on making sure that we’ve got a level of capability so that we can deter attacks on our satellites, essentially through non-kinetic means so that we can have some impact,” Air Vice Marshall Cath Roberts, told a small group of reporters here, one year after her command was established. Electronic warfare is a key tool, she said.

“I think it’s a really important part of where we go to is just looking at how we can have that sort of electronic warfare-type of capability to allow us to deter attacks or certainly interfere,” she said. Asked when she would have EW capabilities to deter other nations, she said simply, “As soon as I can.”

“Space is a really strategic environment, but it’s also a very vulnerable environment. Depending on which orbit satellites are in, it makes a difference as to their vulnerabilities,” Roberts noted.

A very important part of Australia’s ability to deter is its ability to see what is happening in space with high fidelity. The clear atmosphere here, the lack of light pollution and Australia’s position on the globe all mean the country is a highly effective observation base for watching satellites.

Three rules for peace in orbit in the new space era

Brian G. Chow and Brandon W. Kelley

The United States and its partners clearly recognize the need for a space traffic management (STM) regime capable of managing 21st-century space security challenges. Expectations are high ahead of the United Nations Summit of the Future in September 2024. Policymakers and diplomats are hard at work preparing the ground, partly via unilateral policy changes but also through sessions of the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and the upcoming preparatory ministerial meeting this September.

Despite these aspirations, there remains a real risk of failure. Countries may fail to reach sufficiently widespread agreement on a short enough timescale to defuse the growing threats. Worse, countries could agree to and implement an STM regime actively harmful to the security and/or economic interests of those who join it.
Worse, countries could agree to and implement an STM regime actively harmful to the security and/or economic interests of those who join it.

Fortunately, the US can prevent both outcomes. To do so, the US must adhere to three rules in its approach to STM. First, the STM system must be “bad actor”-proofed. Second, the regime must provide timely warning and defense. Third, the STM regime must be structured in such a way as to align all parties’ incentives toward agreement and compliance. By building these three rules into STM design and negotiations from the outset, the US and its allies can establish a strong foundation for continued peace and prosperity in orbit.
A framework for effective STM

Report: CHIPS Act just the first step in addressing threats to US leadership in advanced computing

Rachel Gordon

When Liu He, a Chinese economist, politician, and "chip czar," was tapped to lead the charge in a chipmaking arms race with the United States, his message lingered in the air, leaving behind a dewy glaze of tension: “For our country, technology is not just for growth… it is a matter of survival.”

Once upon a time, the United States’ early technological prowess positioned the nation to outpace foreign rivals and cultivate a competitive advantage for domestic businesses. Yet, 30 years later, America’s lead in advanced computing is continuing to wane. What happened?

A new report from an MIT researcher and two colleagues sheds light on the decline in U.S. leadership. The scientists looked at high-level measures to examine the shrinkage: overall capabilities, supercomputers, applied algorithms, and semiconductor manufacturing. Through their analysis, they found that not only has China closed the computing gap with the U.S., but nearly 80 percent of American leaders in the field believe that their Chinese competitors are improving capabilities faster — which, the team says, suggests a “broad threat to U.S. competitiveness.”

To delve deeply into the fray, the scientists conducted the Advanced Computing Users Survey, sampling 120 top-tier organizations, including universities, national labs, federal agencies, and industry. The team estimates that this group comprises one-third and one-half of all the most significant computing users in the United States.

US Technological Dominance Is Not What It Used to Be

WITH EVERYONE SO mesmerized by silver-tongued AI chatbots, it’s easy to forget that most flashy breakthroughs in science and technology depend on much less glamorous advances in the fundamentals of computing—new algorithms, different computer architectures, and novel silicon chips.

This is an edition of WIRED's Fast Forward newsletter, a weekly dispatch from the future by Will Knight, exploring AI advances and other technology set to change our lives.

The US has largely dominated these areas of innovation since the early days of computing. But academics who study advances in computer science say in a new report that by many measures, the US lead in advanced computing has declined significantly over the past five years—especially when measured against China.

It’s well established that America no longer manufactures many of the world’s most advanced computer chips—a process that involves carving insanely intricate patterns into silicon with devilishly difficult techniques. Apple and many other companies instead outsource that work to TSMC in Taiwan or Samsung in South Korea. This is why the US government created the CHIPS Act—a $52 billion package aimed at revitalizing domestic chip-making and related technologies.

The report—from MIT; the Council on Competitiveness, a think tank; and Silicon Catalyst, an investment firm—shows that America’s share of the world’s most powerful supercomputers has also fallen a lot over the past five years.

China Trumps U.S. in Key Technology Research, Report Says

James T. Areddy

Chinese researchers lead their American counterparts in the study of dozens of critical technologies, according to a new report that proposes Beijing is dominant in some scientific pursuits and positioned to develop key future breakthroughs.

The report, published Thursday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, puts Chinese researchers ahead of Americans in 37 of 44 technologies examined, across the sectors of defense, space, robotics, energy, environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, advanced materials and quantum technology.

“In the long term, China’s leading research position means that it has set itself up to excel not just in current technological development in almost all sectors, but in future technologies that don’t yet exist,” ASPI concludes. No other nation is close to China and the U.S. in the research race, according to the Canberra-based think tank, which is primarily funded by Australia’s government. The report put India and the U.K. distantly behind them in most sectors, followed by South Korea and Germany.

The report says China’s research interest and performance in military and space sectors are particularly notable, including in the field of hypersonics—the technology of an advanced missile China tested last year that appeared to surprise the U.S. defense community. Chinese researchers generated more than 48% of the high-impact research papers on advanced aircraft engines, including hypersonics, and China is home to seven of the world’s top 10 research institutions focused on such study, according to the report. One of them, Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences, ranks first or second in most sectors graded.

State of Defense 2023


With no end in sight to the year-old Ukraine war, defense headlines remain largely, and understandably, focused on Russia’s invasion of Europe’s frontier. But back home, the Biden administration, military leaders, Congressional partisans, and the U.S. security apparatus appear far more concerned about China. The services are shifting their plans, people, and weapons to deter Beijing from military conflict, to be better positioned to respond, and to have a better chance to survive.

What’s changed is that where military leaders used to avoid saying “China” when talking publicly about their Pacific worries, it’s now all out in the open. Army commanders in the Indo-Pacific region, for example, have always tried to declare the land service’s relevance in that vast and mostly air- and sea-covered side of the Earth. This year, it’s genuine. U.S. Army Gen. Charles Flynn, of U.S. Army Pacific Command, expects 2023 to be one of the business and most consequential ever.

The goal? Beat China to their punch, which they’ve forecast could come as early as 2027.

The problem? Convincing Americans to join in the fight.

“Today’s young Americans appear to be less interested in enlisting in the Army than they’ve been at almost any point in the last 50 years,” writes Defense One’s Ben Watson in his State of the Army 2023.

Russia's struggles in Ukraine are showing US special operators that they'll need to fight without their 'tethers' to win future wars

Stavros Atlamazoglou

A less-visible aspect has been the need for a robust logistical network to sustain frontline forces.

For US special operators, the war is a reminder that such a network won't always be available.

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has brought renewed attention to the challenges of a large-scale, conventional nation-on-nation conflict.

After a year of the fighting, the world has learned a lot about what it takes to wage modern war. Ukraine thwarted Russia's initial attack and, with extensive Western support, has driven Russia's forces back. Russia continues to struggle to achieve its objectives despite reducing its ambitions after the first few months of the war. So far, Moscow has lost an estimated 200,000 troops.

436. Non-Kinetic War

This paper provides insights into the undermining of democracy, repression, and coercion that is noted in the 2022 National Security Strategy (NSS), through the lens of non-kinetic war. It also proposes a method for the development of doctrine and a strategy to counter non-kinetic war threats. The recommendation is that the U.S. Army problem frame include non-kinetic war, kinetic war, and counter insurgency operations. The rationale is based on the change in the character of war over the past 40 years, and the directed task noted below in the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS). Decades of global entanglement, assured connectivity, persistent technical surveillance, and the effects of converging technologies have set the conditions for non-kinetic systems warfare on a global scale.

The aforementioned dynamics have reframed long standing epistemological norms that guide our thinking and understanding. The theory of cognition and knowledge has significantly changed for humans who are connected via the World Wide Web (WWW). People are exposed to new data, knowledge structures, and technology capabilities, which have made sense-making difficult today. These phenomena have also altered human ontology – our theory of being and the essence of things as we once perceived them. Technological advancements have created a multitude of traceable and targetable individual virtual avatars and a deceptive sense of being. Human identity and our DNA are increasingly becoming both biological and digital, out of necessity, and as a result of converging systems.1 Digital disintermediation has dethroned hierarchical governance, as people can obtain required information and make decisions without institutional approval.2 The degradation of data veracity and efficacy has irreversibly changed the theory of values and truth through the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, and “fake news” that is promulgated by humans and bot virtual armies by nation state and non-nation state entities to achieve economic, political or ideological objectives.3 These variables, and many more, are having a profound impact on U.S. Army readiness and the ability to recruit and sustain an all-volunteer force.